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Where to Find the Loveliest Cafés and the Best Sourdough in London

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If anyone knows where to eat, drink, and find the best cinnamon and cardamom buns (yes, both) in London, it's Anna Jones. The London-based cookbook author—who's new book A Modern Way to Cook, was released in August—vegetarian pioneer, and "The New Nigella," as she's been called, shared her picks with us for everything from the most cloud-like bao to the best jams. Check out her recommendations below:

Brunch at the Dandy Cafe does look dandy!
Brunch at the Dandy Cafe does look dandy! Photo by Anna Jones

For Brunch

Dandy Cafe: Located in a converted shipping container tucked around the back of hipster London fields, the generous chef and front of house duo here, Dan and Andy, make knockout, vibrant, and unexpected food—and they're always thoughtful with their vegetarian offerings. The café also has a killer wine list if a juice won't cut it.

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Sunday: During the weekend, it's never without a queue and that's for very good reason. This low-key neighborhood spot is just around the corner from a prop house I go to all the time for shoots, which is a great excuse to eat there. The food is bright and flavor-forward. Whether it's the courgette with halloumi fritters or incredible french toast with salted caramel, the menu is ever-changing and always amazing. There is a little oasis of a garden out back, too, for when the sun shines.

Jim's Cafe: This café just opened on a great little market street close to my home. It has great fresh breakfast bowls, waffles, and juices.

Restaurant fronts like this make us want to pack our bags.
Restaurant fronts like this make us want to pack our bags. Photo by Anna Jones

For Lunch or a Relaxed Dinner

Padella pasta: Opened by friend and ex-Jamie Oliver chef Tim Sidatian, Padella is pasta done right. It has a small menu, sometimes a long queue, and the cacio e pepe and tagliatelle pomodro are so on point.

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Bao: I dream of these soft, pillowy, cloud-like Chinese steamed buns; the vegetarian ones come with thick wedges of daikon or squash inside. Bao has three spots around London, but I get mine from their stand at Netil Market most Saturdays.

Fifteen London: This is where I tried as a chef and somewhere that will always feel like home. The brilliant Robin Holm runs the kitchen and makes food led by British ingredients (some even come from Jamie Oliver's actual garden), with Holm's own sense and Swedish influence. I adore his cooking—and they make a good cocktail, too. The restaurant supports the Fifteen Apprentice Foundation, which changes peoples lives by offering them a chance to cook. It's a special place.

A perfectly swirly cinnamon bun from Copper + Wolf.
A perfectly swirly cinnamon bun from Copper + Wolf. Photo by Anna Jones

For Coffee

Cooper + Wolf: My favorite local coffee spot. I don't drink a lot of coffee but when I do, I want it to be good. This café also does the best savory buns in town. I try and time my visit for mid-morning so I can have one warm from the oven. It's also super close to the Hackney Marshes, which are a favorite local place to walk.

Gnudi and dessert at Spring. Yes and yes! Photos by Anna Jones

For a Celebration

Spring: Spring is beautiful, calm, and delicate in all the best possible ways. Fueled by the amazing vegetables grown just for Spring by Fern Verrow farm, it features an exquisite, joyful menu from Skye Gyngell. It's just the loveliest place to be.

Lyle's: Another calm and considered place to eat. The brilliant chef here, James Lowe, has such a light touch with techniques and flavors and there's almost always something new, rare, or interesting to try. They make a special effort for vegetarians, too. It's damn good food.

We'll take all of the cupcakes from Violet.
We'll take all of the cupcakes from Violet. Photo by Anna Jones

For Baked Things and Jam

Violet: Claire's cakes (and everything else) are very difficult to beat.

E5 Bakehouse: My husband cycles here at least twice a week to pick up a loaf of their sourdough. (He's now at the stage where he's upset if he eats bread from anywhere else.) It's, for my money, the best sourdough in London. Their aim is to make all their bread from organic wheat grown and milled in the UK.

Custard donuts from Violet: cue oohs and ahhs.
Custard donuts from Violet: cue oohs and ahhs. Photo by Anna Jones

London Borough of Jam: Lille makes jams in small batches with way less sugar than anyone else I know—and her flavor combinations are insane. Plum and fennel pollen, Fig and Earl Grey, Rhubarb and Orange blossom, Amalfi Lemon marmalade—I could go on. The shop also houses a perfectly curated collection of good things to cook, read, and drink.

Fabrique: A Swedish bakery with incredible sourdough and even more incredible cinnamon and cardamon buns.

Have a favorite spot in London that's not to miss? Share it in the comments below!